And how you can protect your own domain names
Last week, a highly respected blogger and online entrepreneur discovered that two of his domain names had been stolen out from under him. If you think this can’t happen to you, think again! How would you feel if your most valuable websites suddenly disappeared? Let’s take a look at what happened, and get the rundown on how you can protect your own domain names.
Hesham Zebida, owner of well-known domain names Zebida.com and FamousBloggers.net, received a random, seemingly spammy email message last Wednesday from someone claiming to be selling two of his most valuable domain names. Zebida decided to check in with his domain registrar, GoDaddy, just to be certain his assets were safe. Turns out, they were not. Zebida’s domain names had actually been mysteriously transferred from his domain registrar to the registrar of the thief.
What happened? According to GoDaddy and Mr. Zebida, the would-be robber hacked into Zebida's GoDaddy account and transferred the domains to registrar Active Registrar. Zebida immediately contacted his web hosting company and then spent the next four days reaching out to everyone imaginable, including law enforcement, the online blogging community and web hosting forums. In the end, Zebida was able to take back control of his prized domain names, but not without a significant amount of struggle and worry.
How to protect your own domain name
It’s no secret that hackers and thieves populate the same internet as you and I. In much the same way that you shield your email account, you must take similar steps with your domain names.
Make sure your domain contact information is accurate and up-to-date.
Choose a secure password and change it from time to time.
Enable two-factor authorization.
Keep your email account secure.
Log in at your domain registrar regularly to verify your active domains.
No anti-theft measure is 100% foolproof, but these five steps can go a long way in insulating your domains against malicious activity.
What to do if your domain is stolen
Domain hijacking, the act of transferring a domain away from the original registrar without the owner’s consent, happens with relative frequency. Even Warren Weitzman, domain name industry pioneer, had over a dozen domains stolen from him at one time. Should it happen to you, there are procedures in place to try and help you regain control of your domain.
According to ICANN, the first thing domain owners should do is to fill out a Register Transfer Dispute form with their domain registrar. Doing so will enable you to prove to domain authorities that you are the actual domain owner. It’s also a good idea to contact the registrar where your domain has been moved to let them know what’s going on. You can further secure your domain by paying for private domain registration and paying extra for enhanced transfer protection, which will require you to send your registrar proof of identification before they approve any domain transfers.
Stay safe out there!